Misty Mountains

From Tolkien Gateway
Misty Mountains
Mountain range
"The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate" by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
Other namesHithaeglir (S)
The Mountains of Mist
Towers of Mist
Line of Misty Peaks
LocationBetween Eriador and Wilderland
TypeMountain range
People and History
CreatedYears of the Trees
EventsThe Great Journey of the Elves, awakening of Durin I, awakening of the Balrog, dominion of the Orcs, War of the Dwarves and Orcs
GalleryImages of the Misty Mountains

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The Misty Mountains, Mountains of Mist or Towers of Mist[1] (Hithaeglir in Sindarin[note 1] as a plural; translated also Line of Misty Peaks[2]) was a great mountain range that lay between Eriador in the west and the Great River Anduin in the east.

Geographic features

In the far north, the Misty Mountains met the Grey Mountains and the Mountains of Angmar, forming a T; The Mountains of Angmar comprising the western "arm", the Grey Mountains the Eastern "arm", and the Misty Mountains the stem.[3] They ran 900 miles (1,448 kilometres)[4] to the Gap of Rohan in the south, where they approached the White Mountains. The Gap was a valley between the southernmost peak of the Misty Mountains and the northernmost of the White Mountains, creating an important pass.[note 2]

The lands around the Misty Mountains included several notable forests, rivers and kingdoms, such as Angmar, Eregion, Dunland, Lothlórien, Fangorn.[3] While Elves guarded both sides of the Misty Mountains, few ever crossed over them.

Important peaks

The northernmost peak of the Misty Mountains can be considered Mount Gundabad,[3] where according to legend, Durin, eldest of the seven Fathers of the Dwarves, awoke. Later it became a haven for Orcs.

The greatest Dwarven realm in Middle-Earth, Khazad-dûm, was located at the midpoint of the Misty Mountains. The city was built under three peaks, called the Mountains of Moria: Redhorn (Caradhras in Sindarin), Silvertine (Celebdil) and Cloudyhead (Fanuidhol).[5] Inside Silvertine the Dwarves built the Endless Stair, a stairway from the depths of the mountain to its peak.

The southernmost mountain was Methedras, which was Sindarin for "Last Peak".[3]


The Pass of Caradhras by Alan Lee

The most important passes were the High Pass and the Redhorn Pass. The former was used by Bilbo Baggins on his way to Erebor, and the latter was used by Frodo, in an attempt to pass over the mountains. There was also a pass at the source of the Gladden River.[5]


Many rivers had their sources issuing from the Misty Mountains.

On the Eastern facing (from North to South);

On the Western facing (from North to South);

On the Southern facing;



The Misty Mountains were created by the Vala Melkor during the Years of the Trees as a hindrance for Oromë, who would hunt his fell creatures. They would later serve as a deterrent for the Elves during the Great Journey, causing some to turn south. The Elves that would not cross the Misty Mountains would become the Nandor.[1][6]


It is said that ancient bears lived in the Mountains until Giants arrived and the bears left to the lowlands.[7]

The great Dwarven city of Khazad-dûm (later called the "Black Pit" of Moria) was located near the middle of the mountain chain. There Durin's folk lived for thousands of years with a kingdom which spread as far north as Gundabad and as far east as the Iron Hills.

At the southern tip of the Misty Mountains, beneath Methedras, was Isengard, which was originally a Gondorian fortress but was later given to Saruman.

Around 1050, the Harfoots migrated west across the Misty Mountains, fleeing the ever more numerous Men and the Shadow growing in Mirkwood, thus the Hobbits entered history. Later the other two groups of Hobbits, the Stoors and Fallohides, migrated west as well, until by 2500 no Hobbits could be found east of the mountains.

When the Dwarves were strong, the mountains were generally free of Orcs, but when the Shadow was strong, Orcs bred in Mount Gundabad, in Goblin-town, later in Moria itself, and everywhere in between. In T.A. 1300 the Orcs of the Misty Mountains started increasing and harassing the Dwarves.[8]

The awakening of Durin's Bane drove the Dwarves from their city. It also seems that some Dwarves, either before or after the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, dwelt on the eastern side of the mountains near Goblin-town.

In T.A. 2480 the Orcs began establishing secret strongholds in the Mountains barring all the passes to Eriador from Rhovanion, while Sauron populated Moria with his creatures.[8]

Near the east exit of Goblin-town the Eagles kept an eyrie to keep watch on the Orcs.[9][10]

Gandalf believed that it was the Orcs of the Misty Mountains that had driven the people of Beorn away, and he promised to return there.[7]

Thorin and Company used the High Pass to cross the Misty Mountains, and witnessed the mysterious Giants. Later they were captured by the Orcs of Goblin-town.[11]

It seems that Beorn's people returned to the Mountains. Once the Orcs were decimated, the Beornings kept open the passages of the Ford of Carrock and the High Pass in return for tolls.[9]

The Fellowship of the Ring faced the challenge to pass the Mountains. They decided to avoid the High Pass or the Gap of Rohan because of the threat of Orc patrols and Saruman's forces. They attempted to cross Redhorn Pass, but a powerful blizzard blocked it, forcing them to journey through Moria. There Gandalf was lost trying to stop Durin's Bane, and after falling into the abyss, he chased him up to the Dwarven Endless Stair and fought on the peak of Silvertine.[12]

It is said that in the Fourth Age Durin VII led the Dwarves back to Moria.[13]


The Sindarin name of the Misty Mountains, hithaeglir, consists of hîth ("mist") and aeglir ("line of peaks").[14]

Other versions of the legendarium

In the The Ambarkanta maps the Misty Mountains are not present, but the Great Journey map is present. The Misty Mountains would have to be in the North-Lands, between the Blue Mountains and Red Mountains (Orocarni).

Portrayal in adaptations

1967: The Hobbit (1967 film):

The Misty Mountains are renamed the Barricade Mountains, and encircle Mirkwood, which in turn encircles Dale and the Lonely Mountain.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Fellowship decides to take the Pass of Caradhras over the Misty Mountains after learning that the passage South was being watched. A blizzard caused by Saruman forces the Company to go under the Mountains, through Moria.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Misty Mountains appear as both a major game region and within other game areas. The region of "Misty Mountains" consists of the part of the mountain range adjacent to Rivendell Valley, including both High Pass and Goblin-town. The mountain range in a broader sense can also be accessed from other in-game regions, including the pass Caradhras in Eregion, former settlement of Dwarves under Thrór in eastern Enedwaith, a village on the slopes of mount Methedras in Dunland, the cliffs of Zirakzigil in Moria and the eastern slopes of the Mountains in Lothlórien.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

While travelling across the Misty Mountains Thorin and Company are impeded by Stone Giants during a storm. They take refuge in a cave, which leads them to fall into Goblin-town and are rescued by Gandalf, eventually escaping out onto the East side of the mountain.


  1. The Hithaeglir were misspelled as "Hithaiglin" on the original Lord of the Rings map.
  2. Karen Wynn Fonstad estimates in the The Atlas of Middle-earth that some of the peaks may have been as high as 12,000 feet (3,660 meters), comparable to the Alps in Europe. Tolkien had visited the Alps in his youth and was greatly impressed by them.